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THE death of Louis the Pious and his clearly expressed last wishes secured the imperial dignity to Lothar. But the situation had not been defined with any precision. The last partition, decreed in 839, had made important alterations in the shares assigned to the three brothers. Now what Lothar hastened to claim was “the empire such as it had formerly been entrusted to him”, namely, the territorial power and the pre-eminent position secured to him by the Constitutio of 817, with his two brothers reduced to the position of vassal kinglets. To make good these claims Lothar had the support of the majority of the prelates, always faithful, in the main, to the principle of unity. But the great lay lords were guided only by considerations of self-interest. In a general way, each of the three brothers had on his side those who had already lived under his rule, and whom he had succeeded in winning over by grants of honors and benefices. Louis had thus secured the Germans, Bavarians, Thuringians and Saxons, and Charles the Neustrians, Burgundians, and such of the Aquitanians as had not espoused the cause of Pepin II. But it would be a mistake to see in the wars which followed the death of Louis the Pious a struggle between races. As a contemporary writes, “the combatants did not differ either in their weapons, their customs, or their race. They fought one another because they belonged to opposite camps, and these camps stood for nothing but coalitions of personal interests”.

Lothar received the news of his father’s death as he was on his way to Worms. He betook himself to Strasbourg, and in that town the oath of fealty was sworn to him by many of the magnates of ancient France who were still loyal to the Carolingian family and to the system of a united empire, being vaguely aware that this system would secure the predominance of the Austrasians from among whom Charles and Louis the Pious had drawn almost all the counts of their vast empire. But Louis the German, on his part, had occupied the country as far as the Rhine, and Charles the Bald was also making ready for the struggle. Lothar had not resolution enough to attack his two brothers one after the other and force them to accept the re-establishment of the Constitutio of 817. He first had an interview beyond the Rhine with Louis, concluding a truce with him until a forthcoming assembly should meet, at which the conditions of a permanent peace were to be discussed. Then he marched against Charles, many of the magnates of the district between the Seine and the Loire joining him, among others Gerard, Count of Paris, and Hilduin, Abbot of Saint-Denis. But Charles, being skillfully advised by Judith and other counselors, among them an illegitimate grandson of Charles the Great, the historian Nithard, opened negotiations and succeeded in obtaining terms which left him provisionally in possession of Aquitaine, Septimania, Provence and six counties between the Loire and the Seine. Lothar, besides, arranged to meet him at the palace of Attigny in the ensuing May, whither Louis the German was also summoned to arrange for a definitive peace.

The winter of 840-841 was spent by the three brothers in enlisting partisans and in gathering troops. But when spring came, Lothar neglected to go to Attigny. Only Louis and Charles met there. An alliance between these two, both equally threatened by the claims of their elder brother, was inevitable. Their armies made a junction in the district of Chalons-sur-Marne, while that of Lothar mustered in the Auxerrois. Louis and Charles marched together against the Emperor, proposing terms of agreement as they came, and sending embassy after embassy to exhort him “to restore peace to the Church of God”. Lothar was anxious to spin matters out, for he was expecting the arrival of Pepin II (who had declared for him) and of his contingent of Aquitanians, or at least of southern Aquitanians, for those of the centre and north were induced by Judith to join Charles the Bald. On 24 June, Pepin effected his junction with the Emperor. The latter now thought himself strong enough to wish for a battle. He sent a haughty message to his younger brothers, reminding them that “the imperial dignity had been committed to him, and that he would know how to fulfill the duties it laid upon him”. On the morning of the 25th, the fight began at Fontenoy in Puisaye, and a desperate struggle it proved. The centre of the imperial army, where Lothar appeared in person, stood firm at first against the troops of Louis the German. On the left wing the Aquitanians of Pepin II long held out, but Charles the Bald, reinforced by a body of Burgundians who had come up, under the command of Warin, Count of Macon, was victorious against the right wing, and his success involved the defeat of Lothar's army. The number of the dead was very great; a chronicler puts it at 40,000. These figures are exaggerated, but it is plain that the imagination of contemporaries was vividly impressed by the carnage “wrought on that accursed day, which ought no longer to be counted in the year, which should be banished from the memory of men, and be forever deprived the light of the sun and of the beams of morning”, as the poet Angilbert says, adding that “the garments of the slain Frankish warriors whitened the plain as the birds usually do in autumn”. At the end of the ninth century, the Lotharingian chronicler, Regino of Prüm, echoes the tradition according to which the battle of Fontenoy decimated the Frankish nobility and left the Empire defenseless against the ravages of the Northmen.

In reality, the battle had not been decisive. Louis and Charles might see the Divine judgment in the issue of the fight, and cause the bishops of their faction to declare that the Almighty had given sentence in their favor, yet, as the annalist of Lobbes put it, “great carnage had taken place, but neither of the two adversaries had triumphed”. Lothar, who was stationed at Aix-la-Chapelle, was ready to carry on the struggle, and was seeking fresh partisans, even making appeal to the Danish pirates whom he settled in the island of Walcheren, while at the same time he was sending emissaries into Saxony, to stir up insurrections among the free or semi-free populations there (the frilingi and lazzi) against the nobility who were of Frankish origin. His two brothers having again separated, he attempted to re-open the struggle by marching in the first instance against Louis. He occupied Mayence, and awaited the attack of the Saxon army. But on learning that Charles, on his side, had collected troops and was marching upon Aix, Lothar quitted Mayence and fell back upon Worms. Then, in his turn, he took the offensive against his youngest brother and compelled him to give back as far as the banks of the Seine. But Charles took up a strong position in the neighborhood of Paris and Saint-Denis. Lothar dared not bring on a battle, so he fell back slowly upon Aix, which he had regained by the beginning of February, 842.

Meanwhile his two brothers drew their alliance closer, and Charles, with this object, had made an appeal to Louis. The latter went to Strasbourg, and there on 14 February, the two kings, surrounded by their men, had a memorable interview. After having addressed their followers gathered together in the palace of Strasbourg, and recalled to them the crimes of Lothar, who had not consented to recognize the judgment of God after his defeat at Fontenoy, but had persisted in causing confusion in the Christian world, they swore mutual friendship and loyal assistance to one another. Louis, as the elder, was the first to take the following oath in the Romance tongue, so as to be understood by his brother’s subjects : “For the love of God and for the Christian people, and our common salvation, so far as God gives me knowledge and power, I will defend my brother Charles with my aid and in everything, as one’s duty is in right to defend one’s brother, on condition that he shall do as much for me, and I will make no agreement with my brother Lothar which shall, with my consent, be to the prejudice of my brother Charles”. Thereupon Charles repeated the same formula in the Teutonic tongue used by his brother’s subjects. Finally, the two armies made the following declaration each in their own language: “If Louis (or Charles) observes the oath which he has sworn to his brother Charles (or Louis) and if Charles (or Louis) my lord, for his part, infringe his oath, if I am not able to dissuade him from it, neither I nor anyone whom I can hinder shall lend him support against Louis (or Charles)”. The two brothers then spent several days together at Strasbourg, prodigal of outward tokens of their amity, offering each other feasts and warlike sports, sleeping at night under each other’s roofs, spending their days together and settling their business in common. In the month of March they advanced against Lothar, and by way of Worms and Mayence reached Coblence, where the Emperor had collected his troops. His army, panic-stricken, disbanded without even attempting to defend the passage of the Moselle. Louis and Charles entered Aix, which Lothar abandoned, to make his way to Lyon through Burgundy. His two brothers followed him. Having reached Chalon-sur-Saone they received envoys from the Emperor acknowledging his offences against them, and proposing peace on condition that they granted him a third of the Empire, with some territorial addition on account of the imperial title which their father had bestowed on him, and of the imperial dignity which their grandfather had joined to the kingship of the Franks. Lothar was still surrounded by numerous supporters. On the other hand, the magnates, fatigued by years of war, were anxious for peace. Louis and Charles accepted in principle the proposals of their elder brother.

On 15 June an interview took place between the three sovereigns, on an island in the Saone near Macon, which led to the conclusion of a truce. Louis made use of it to crush the insurrection of a league of Saxon peasants, the Stellinga, which the Emperor had secretly encouraged. In the month of November the truce was renewed, and a commission of a hundred and twenty members having met at Coblence, charged with the duty of arranging the partition of the kingdoms among the three brothers, the division was definitively concluded at Verdun, in the month of August 843. The official document has been lost, but it is nevertheless possible, from the information given by the chroniclers, to state its main provisions. The Empire was divided from East to West into three sections, and “Lothar received the middle kingdom”, i.e. Italy and the region lying between the Alps, the Aar and the Rhine on the East (together with the Ripuarian counties on the lower right bank of the latter river) and the Rhone, the Saone and the Scheldt on the West. These made up a strip of territory about a thousand miles in length by one hundred and thirty in breadth, reaching from the North Sea to the Duchy of Benevento.

Louis received the countries beyond the Rhine, except Frisia which was left to Lothar, while west of that river, “because of the abundance of wine” and in order that he should have his share of what was originally Austrasia, he was given in addition the dioceses of Spires, Worms and Mayence. Charles kept the rest as far as Spain, nothing being said as to Pepin II, whose rights the Emperor found himself unable to enforce. This division at first sight appears fairly simple, but in reality the frontiers it assigned to Lothar’s kingdom were largely artificial, since the border-line by no means followed the course of the rivers, but cutting off from the Emperor’s share three counties on the left bank of the Rhine, allowed him in compensation on the left bank of the Meuse the districts of Mézières and Mouzon, the Dormois, the Verdunois, the Barrois, the Ornois with Bassigny, and on the right bank of the Rhone, the Vivarais and the Uzège with, of course, the whole of the transrhodanian parts of the counties of Vienne and Lyon. Each of the three brothers swore to secure to the other two the share thus adjudged to them, and to maintain concord, and “peace having been thus made and confirmed by oath, each one returned to his kingdom to govern and defend it”.

The Treaty of Verdun marks a first stage in the dissolution of the Carolingian Empire. Doubtless it would be idle to see in it an uprising of ancient national feelings against the unity which had been imposed by the strong hand of Charlemagne. In reality, these old nationalities had no more existence on the morrow of the treaty than on the eve of it. It is true that the three ancient kingdoms of Lombardy, Bavaria and Aquitaine formed nuclei of the states set up in 843. But Lothar’s portion included races as different as those dwelling round the Lower Rhine and those of central Italy. Louis, besides Germans, had Slav subjects, and even some Franks who spoke the Romance tongue. Charles became the ruler of the greater part of the Franks of France, the country between the Rhine and the Loire which was to give its name to his kingdom, but his Breton and Aquitanian vassals had nothing to connect them closely with the Neustrians or the Burgundians. The partition of 843 was the logical outcome of the mistakes of Louis the Pious who, for the sake of Charles, his Benjamin, had sacrificed in his interests that unity of the Empire which it had been the object of the Constitutio of 817 to safeguard, while at the same time it gave the younger sons of Louis the position of kings. Nonetheless, the date 843 is a convenient one in history to mark a dividing line, to register the beginning of the individual life of modern nations. Louis had received the greater part of the lands in which the Teutonic language was spoken; Charles reigned almost exclusively (setting aside the Bretons) over populations of the Romance tongue. This difference only became more accentuated as time went on. On the other hand, the frequent changes of sovereignty in Lorraine have permanently made of ancient Austrasia a debatable territory. The consequences of the treaty of Verdun have made themselves felt even down to our own day, since from 843 to 1920 France and Germany have contended for portions of media Francia, the ancient home whence the companions of Charles and Pepin went forth to conquer Gallia and Germania. But in 843 France and Germany do not yet exist. Each sovereign looks upon himself as a King of the Franks. None the less, there is a Frankish kingdom of the West and a Frankish kingdom of the East, the destinies of which will henceforth lie apart, and from this point of view it is true to say that the grandsons of Charles, the universal Emperor, have each his country.

Even contemporary writers realized the importance of the division made by the Treaty of Verdun in the history of the Frankish monarchy. The following justly famous verses by the deacon Florus of Lyons sum up the situation as it appeared to the advocates of the ancient régime of imperial unity:


Floruit egregium claro diademate regnum

Princeps unus erat, populus quoque subditus unus,

At nunc tantus apex tanto de culmine lapsus,

Cunctorum teritur pedibus; diademate nudus

Perdidit imperii pariter nomenque decusque,

Et regnum unitum concidit sorte triformi.

Induperator ibi prorsus jam nemo putatur;

Pro rege est regulus, pro regno fragmina.


For the old conception of a united Empire in which kings acted merely as lieutenants of the Emperor, was being substituted the idea of a new form of government, that of three kings, equal in dignity and in effective power. Lothar, it is true, retained the imperial title, but had been unable to secure, by obtaining a larger extent of territory, any real superiority over his brothers. He possessed, indeed, the two capitals of the Empire, Rome and Aix, but this circumstance did not, in the ninth century, carry all the weight in men’s minds that has since been attributed to it. Besides this advantage in dignity was largely counterbalanced by the inferiority arising from the weakness of geographical position which marked Lothar's long strip of territory, peopled by varying races with varying interests, threatened on the north by the Danes, and on the south by the Saracens, over the whole of which it was barely possible that he could exercise his direct authority. As to the Emperor’s brothers, they were naturally disinclined to recognize in him any superiority over them. In their negotiations with him they regard themselves as his equals (peers, pares). Beyond his title of king they give him no designation save that of “elder brother” and the very word imperium rarely occurs in documents.

Yet to say that the Empire has completely disappeared would be an exaggeration. One of the chief prerogatives of the Emperor is still maintained. It was his function not merely to safeguard the unity of the Frankish monarchy, but his duty was also to protect the Church and the Holy See, that is, to take care that religious peace was preserved, at all events, throughout Western Christendom, and, in concert with the Pope, to govern Rome and the Papal States. As Lothar had been entrusted with these duties during his father’s lifetime, he would be more familiar with them than any other person. “The Pope”, he said himself, “put the sword into my hand to defend the altar and the throne”, and the very first measure of his administration had been the Roman Constitutio of 824 which defined the relations of the two powers. These imperial rights and duties had not been made to vanish by the new situation created in other respects for the Emperor in 843. If Lothar does not seem to have given any large share of his attention to ecclesiastical affairs, on the other hand he is found intervening, either personally or through his son Louis, in papal elections. In 844 Sergius II, who had been consecrated without the Emperor's participation, met with bitter reproaches for having thus neglected to observe the constitution of 824. On his death (847) the people of Rome, alarmed at the risk involved in a vacancy of the Holy See while Saracen invasions were threatening, again ignored the imperial regulations at the election of Leo IV. But the latter hastened to write to Lothar and Louis II to make excuses for the irregular course taken by the Romans. In 855 the election of Benedict III took place, all forms being duly observed, and was respectfully notified to the two Augusti through the medium of their missi. The measures taken by Lothar against the Saracens of Italy were dictated as much by the necessity of defending his own states as by a sense of his position as Protector of the Holy See, but there were one or two occasions on which he appears to have attempted to exercise some authority on matters ecclesiastical in the dominions of his brother Charles.

It is at least highly probable that it was at his request that Sergius II, in 844, granted to Drogo Bishop of Metz, who had already under color of his personal claims been invested with archiepiscopal dignity, the office of Vicar Apostolic throughout the Empire north of the Alps, with the right of convoking General Councils, and of summoning all ecclesiastical causes before his tribunal, previous to any appeal being made to Rome. This, from the spiritual point of view, was to give control to the Emperor, through the medium of one of his prelates, over ecclesiastical affairs in the kingdoms of his two brothers. But as early as the month of December 844, a synod of the bishops of the Western Kingdom at Ver (near Compiègne) declared, with abundance of personally complimentary expressions towards Drogo, that his primatial authority must be first of all recognized by a general assembly of the bishops concerned. Such an assembly, as may be imagined, never came together, and the Archbishop of Metz was forced to resign himself to a purely honorary vicariate.

Lothar met with no better success in his attempt to restore his ally, Ebbo, to his archiepiscopal throne at Reims, whence he had been expelled in 885 as a traitor to the Emperor Louis, though no successor had yet been appointed. The Pope turned a deaf ear to all representations on Ebbo’s behalf, and the Council at Ver entreated Charles to provide the Church of Reims with a pastor without delay. This pastor proved to be the celebrated Hincmar who for nearly forty years was to be the most strenuous and illustrious representative of the episcopate of Gaul. (Hincmar, who was born during the first years of the ninth century, was at this time a monk at Saint-Denis and entrusted with the government of the Abbeys of Notre-Dame by Compiègne and Saint-Germer de Flay. But Charles had already employed him on various missions, and he seems for some years to have held an important position among the king’s counselors).

Thus the attempts made by Lothar to obtain anything in the nature of supremacy outside the borders of his own kingdom had met with no success. They even had a tendency to bring about a renewal of hostilities between him and his youngest brother. But the bishops surrounding the three kings had a clear conception of the Treaty of Verdun as having been made not only to settle the territorial problem, but also to secure the continuance of peace and order. The magnates themselves were weary of civil war, and had, besides, enemies from without to contend against, Slavs, Saracens, Bretons and, above all, Northmen. They were of one mind with the prelates in saying to the three brothers. “You must abstain from secret machinations to one another’s hurt, and you must support and aid one another”. Consequently, a new system was established called with perfect correctness “the system of concord” secured by frequent meetings between the three brothers.

The first of these interviews took place at Yütz, near Thionville, in October 844, at the same time as a synod of the bishops of the three kingdoms under the presidency of Drogo. Here the principles governing the “Carolingian fraternity” were at once laid down. The kings, for the future, are not to seek to injure one another, but on the contrary, are to lend one another mutual aid and assistance against enemies from outside.

The king most threatened at the time by enemies such as these was Charles the Bald. In 842 the Northmen had pillaged the great commercial mart of Quentovic near the river Canche. In the following year they went up the Loire as far as Nantes which they plundered, slaughtering the bishop during the celebration of divine service. The Bretons, united under their leader Nomenoë, and not much impressed by an expedition sent against them in 848, were invading Frankish territory. Lambert, one of the Counts of the March, created to keep them in check, had risen in revolt and was making common cause with them. On the other hand, the Aquitanians, faithful to Pepin II, the king they had chosen, refused to recognize Charles. An expedition which the king had sent against them in the spring of 844 had failed through a check to the siege of Toulouse, and through the execution of Charles’s former protector, Count Bernard of Septimania, who was accused of treason. The Frankish troops, beaten by the Aquitanians on the banks of the river Agoût, had been forced to beat a retreat without accomplishing any useful purpose. The kings, who had met at Yütz, addressed a joint letter to Nomenoë, Lambert and Pepin II, threatening to unite and march against them if they persisted in their rebellion. These threats, however, were only partially effective. Pepin agreed to do homage to Charles, who in exchange for this profession of obedience recognized his possession of a restricted Aquitaine, without Poitou, the Angoumois or Saintonge. But the Bretons, for their part, refused to submit. Charles sent against them an expedition which ended in a lamentable defeat on the plain of Ballon, not far from Redon (22 November 845). During the following summer Charles was compelled to sign a treaty with Nomenoë acknowledging the independence of Brittany, and to leave the rebel Lambert in possession of the county of Maine. A body of Scandinavian pirates went up the Seine in 845; the king was obliged to buy their withdrawal with a sum of money. Other Danes, led by their king, Horic, were ravaging the dominions of Louis the German, particularly Saxony. In 845 their countrymen had got possession of Hamburg and destroyed it. At the same time Louis had to keep back his Slav neighbors, and to send expeditions against the rebellious Obotrites (844) and the Moravians (846). Lothar, for his part, had in 845 to contend with a revolt of his Provençal subjects led by Fulcrad, Count of Arles. The friendly agreement proclaimed at Yütz between the three brothers was a necessity of the situation. It was nevertheless disturbed by the action of a vassal of Charles the Bald, named Gilbert (Giselbert), who carried off a daughter of Lothar I, taking her with him to Aquitaine where he married her (846). Great was the Emperor's wrath against his youngest brother, whom he accused, in spite of all his protests, of complicity with the abductor. He renewed his intrigues at Rome on behalf of Drogo and Ebbo, and even gave shelter in his dominions to Charles, brother of Pepin, who had again rebelled. Besides this he allowed certain of his adherents to lead expeditions into the Western Kingdom which were, in fact, mere plundering raids. He consented, however, in the beginning of 847 to meet Louis and Charles in a fresh conference which took place at Meersen near Maastricht.

Again the principle of fraternity was proclaimed, and this time it was extended beyond the sovereigns themselves to their subjects. Further, for the first time a provision was made which chiefly interested Lothar, who was already concerned about the succession to his crown. It was decided to guarantee to the children of any one of the three brothers who might happen to die, the peaceful possession of their father’s kingdom. Letters or ambassadors were also ordered to be sent to the Northmen, the Bretons and the Aquitanians. But this latter resolution, save for an advance made to King Horic, remained nearly a dead letter. Lothar, who still cherished anger against Gilbert's suzerain, chose to leave him in the midst of the difficulties which pressed upon him, and even sought an alliance against him with Louis the German, his interviews with whom become very frequent during the next few years.

Nevertheless the position of Charles improved. The magnates of Aquitaine, ever inconstant, had abandoned Pepin II, almost to a man, and Charles had, as it were, set a seal upon his entrance into actual possession of the whole of the states which the treaty of 843 had recognized as his, by having himself solemnly crowned and anointed at Orleans on 6 June 848 by Ganelon (Wenilo), the Archbishop of Sens. Again, Gilbert had left Aquitaine and taken refuge at the court of Louis the German. There was no longer any obstacle to the reconciliation of Lothar with his youngest brother, which took place in a very cordial interview between the two sovereigns at Péronne (January 849). A little later, Louis the German, in his turn, had a meeting with Charles, at which the two kings mutually “recommended” their kingdoms and the guardianship of their children to one another, in case of the death of either. The result of all these private interviews was a general conference held at Meersen in the spring of 851 in order to buttress the somewhat shaky edifice of the concordia fratrum. The principles of brotherly amity and the duty of mutual help were again proclaimed, supplemented by a pledge given by the three brothers to forget their resentment for the past, and, in order to avoid any further occasions of discord, to refuse entrance into any one kingdom to such as had disturbed the peace of any other.

But these fair professions did little to alter the actual state of things, and the sovereigns pursued their intrigues against one another. Lothar tried to recommend himself to Charles by procuring for Hincmar the grant of the pallium. Louis the German, on the contrary, displayed his enmity to him by receiving into his dominions the disgraced Archbishop Ebbo, to whom he even gave the bishopric of Hildesheim. Meanwhile the Scandinavian invasions raged ever more fiercely in the Western Kingdom. In 851 the Danish followers of the sea-king Oscar, having devastated Aquitaine, pushed up the Seine as far as Rouen, pillaged Jumièges and Saint-Wandrille, and from thence made their way into the Beauvais country which they ravaged with fire and sword. Next year another fleet desisted from pillaging Frisia to sail up the Seine. Other hordes ascended the Loire, and in 853 burned Tours and its collegiate church of St Martin, one of the most venerated sanctuaries of Gaul. Some of the Northmen, quitting the river-banks, carried fire and sword through the country to Angers and Poitiers. Next year Blois and Orleans were ravaged, and a body of Danes wintered at the island of Besse near Nantes, where they fortified themselves. On the other hand, in 849, Nomenoë of Brittany, who was striving ever harder to make good his position as an independent sovereign, and had just made an attempt to set up a new ecclesiastical organization in Brittany, withdrawing it from the jurisdiction of the Frankish metropolitan at Tours, was again in arms. He seized upon Rennes, and ravaged the country as far as Le Mans. Death put an abrupt end to his successes (7 March 851), but his son and successor, Erispoë, obtained from Charles, who had been discouraged by a fruitless expedition, his recognition as king of Brittany, now enlarged by the districts of Nantes, Retz and Rennes.

Finally, the affairs of Aquitaine only just failed to rekindle war between the Eastern and Western kings. The authority of Charles, in spite of Pepin’s oath of fealty, and in spite of the apparent submission of the magnates in 848, had never been placed, to the south of the Loire, on really solid foundations. In 849 he had been obliged to dispatch a fresh expedition into Aquitaine, which had failed in taking Toulouse. But afterwards in 852 the chance of a skirmish threw Pepin into the hands of Sancho, Count of Gascony, who handed him over to Charles the Bald. The king at once had the captive tonsured and interned in a monastery. But this did little to secure the submission of Aquitaine. The very next year the magnates of the country sent envoys to Louis the German offering him the crown, either for himself or one of his sons, and threatening, if he refused it, to have recourse to the heathen, either Saracen or Northman. Louis the German agreed to send one of his sons, Louis the Younger, whom they might put at their head. But Charles the Bald had become aware of what was intended against him, for he is at once found making closer alliance with Lothar, whom he met twice, first at Valenciennes and then at Liege. In the course of the interviews the two sovereigns guaranteed to each other the peaceful possession of their lands for themselves and their heirs. When they separated, Aquitaine was in full revolt. Charles hastened to collect his army, cross the Loire and march against the rebels, ravaging the country as he went, devastated as it already was by the troops which Louis the Younger had brought from beyond the Rhine. The news of a colloquy between Lothar and his brother of Germany excited the distrust of Charles the Bald, and abruptly recalled him to the north of Gaul, where he came to Attigny to renew the alliance previously made with the Emperor. Then, with his army he again set out for Aquitaine. But what was of more service to him than these warlike demonstrations was the re-appearance, south of the Loire, of Pepin II, who had escaped from his prison. At the sight of their old prince, the Aquitanians very generally abandoned the cause of Louis the Younger, who found himself forced to return to Bavaria. But it does not appear that Charles the Bald looked upon Pepin’s power as very firmly established, for next year he gave a king to the Aquitanians in the person of his own son Charles (the Younger) whom he caused to be solemnly anointed at Limoges.

A few weeks earlier, Lothar, after having arranged for the division of his lands among the three sons whom the Empress Ermengarde had borne him, retired to the Abbey of Prüm. Here it was that on the night of 28-29 September 855, his restless life reached its end.

The partition which the Emperor Lothar I had thus made of his territories divided into three truncated portions the long strip of country which by the treaty of 843 had fallen to him as the lot of the eldest son of Louis the Pious. To Louis II, the eldest of the dead man’s sons, was given the imperial title, which he had borne since April 850, together with Italy. To the next, Lothar II, were bequeathed the districts from Frisia to the Alps and between the Rhine and the Scheldt which were to preserve his own name, for they were called Lothari regnum, i.e. Lorraine. For the youngest son, Charles, a new kingdom was formed by the union of Provence proper with the duchy of Lyon (i.e. the Lyonnais and the Viennois). For the rest, the two elder were discontented with their share, and in an interview which they had with their younger brother at Orbe attempted to force him into retirement in order to take possession of his kingdom. Only the intervention of the Provençal magnates saved the young prince Charles, and Lothar II and Louis II were forced to carry out the last directions of their father. But the death of Lothar I, whose position both in theory and in fact had fitted him to act as in some sort a mediator between his two brothers, endangered the maintenance of peace and concord. Charles, who was a feeble epileptic, had no weight in the “Carolingian concert”. It was only the kind of regency entrusted to Gerard, Count of Vienne, renowned in legendary epic as Girard of Roussillon, which secured the continued existence of the little kingdom of Provence. Louis II, whose attention was concentrated on the struggle with the Saracens, had to content himself with the part of “Emperor of the Italians”, as the Frank analysts, not without a touch of contempt, describe him. Only Lothar II, as ruler of the country where the Frank empire had been founded, and whence its aristocracy had largely sprung, might, in virtue of his comparative strength and the geographical situation of his kingdom, count for something in the relations between his two uncles. Thus at the very beginning of his reign we find Louis the German seeking to come into closer touch with him at an interview at Coblence (February 857). Lothar, however, remained constant to the alliance made by his father with Charles the Bald, which he solemnly renewed at Saint-Quentin.

The Western Kingdom was still in a distracted state. The treaty concluded at Louviers with King Erispoë (10 February 856) had for a time secured peace with the Bretons. Prince Louis, who was about to become Erispoë’s son-in-law, was to be entrusted with the government of the march created on the Breton frontier, and known as the Duchy of Maine. But the Northmen were becoming ever more menacing. In the same year, 856, in the month of August, the Viking Sidroc made his way up the Seine and established himself at Pitres. A few weeks later he was joined by another Danish chief, Björn Ironside, and together they ravaged the country from the Seine to the Loire. In vain Charles, despite the systematic opposition of a party among the magnates who refused to join the host, showed laudable energy in resisting their advance, and even succeeded in inflicting a check upon them. In the end, they established themselves at Oscellum, an island in the Seine opposite Jeufosse, near Mantes, twice ascending the river as far as Paris, which they plundered, taking prisoner and holding to ransom Louis, Abbot of Saint-Denis, one of the chief personages of the kingdom. On the other hand, Maine, in spite of the presence of Prince Louis, remained a hotbed of disaffection to Charles. The whole family of the Count Gauzbert, who had been beheaded for treason some few years before, was in rebellion, supported by the magnates of Aquitaine, where Pepin II had again taken up arms and was carrying on a successful struggle with Charles the Young. Even outside Aquitaine discontent was rife. Family rivalry intensified every difficulty. The clan then most in favor with Charles was that of the Welfs, who were related to the Empress Judith, the most prominent members of it being her brother Conrad, lay Abbot of Jumieges and of St Riquier, who was one of the most influential of the king's counselors, and his nephews Conrad, Count of Auxerre, and Hugh, Abbot of St Germain in the same town. The relations of Queen Ermentrude, who were thrust somewhat on one side, Adalard, Odo, Count of Troyes, and Robert the Strong, the successor in Maine of young Louis whom the magnates had driven out, attracted the discontented round them.

Charles had reason to be uneasy. Already in 853, the Aquitanians had appealed to the king of Germany. In 856 the disloyal among the magnates had again asked help of him, and only the necessity of preparing for a war with the Slavs had prevented him from complying with their request. Charles the Bald attempted to provide against such contingencies. At Verberie near Senlis (856), at Quierzy near Laon (857 and 858), at Brienne (858), he demanded of his magnates that they should renew their oath of fealty. In 858 he thought he could sufficiently depend on them to venture on a new expedition against the Northmen, who had fortified themselves in the island of Oscellum. Charles the Younger and Pepin II of Aquitaine had promised their help. Lothar II himself came with a Lotharingian contingent to take a share in the campaign (summer of 858). This was the moment which Adalard and Odo chose for addressing a fresh appeal to Louis the German. The latter, who was on the point of marching anew against the Slavs, hesitated long, if we are to trust his chroniclers. Finally, “strong in the purity of his intentions, he preferred to serve the interests of the many rather than to submit to the tyranny of one man”. Above all, he considered the opportunity favorable. Lothar's absence left the road across Alsace clear for him, and by 1 September 858 he had established himself in the Western Kingdom, in the palace of Ponthion. Here he was joined by such of the magnates as had deserted Charles the Bald before the fortified Northmen. Thence by way of Chalons-sur-Marne, he reached first Sens, whither he was called by its Archbishop Ganelon, and then Orleans, showing plainly his intention of holding out a hand to the rebels of Le Mans and Aquitaine.

Charles, for his part, on hearing of the invasion, had hastily raised the siege of Oscellum, and was on the march for Lorraine. Louis, fearing to have his retreat to Germany cut off, retraced his steps, whereupon the armies of the two brothers found themselves face to face in the neighborhood of Brienne. But the Frankish counts, whose support was essential for the final success of either party, had a deep and well-founded distaste for pitched battles; the question for them, was merely the greater or less number of "benefices" which they might hope to obtain from one or the other adversary. Recourse was consequently had to negotiation, when despite the numerous embassies sent by Charles to Louis, the latter showed himself the more skilful of the two. By dint of promises, he succeeded in corrupting nearly all his brother’s vassals. Charles found himself constrained to throw up the game, and retire to Burgundy, the one province where his supporters were still in a majority. Louis, seeing nothing to be gained by pursuing him thither, betook himself to the palace of Attigny, whence on 7 December he issued a diploma as king of Western France, and where he spent his time in dealing out honors and benefices to those who had come over to his side. But in order to make his triumph secure, he still had to be acknowledged and consecrated by the Church. The episcopate of the Western Kingdom, however, remained faithful to Charles, whether through attachment to the principles of peace and concord, or through dread of a new system founded on the ambitions of the lay aristocracy, who were ever ready to extort payment for their support out of the estates of the ecclesiastical magnates. Only Ganelon of Sens, forgetting that he owed his preferment to Charles’s favor, had taken sides with the new sovereign, thus leaving his name to become in tradition that of the most notorious traitor of medieval epic. The bishops of the provinces of Rheims and Rouen being summoned by Louis to attend a council at Rheims, contrived under the skilful guidance of Hincmar to hinder the meeting from being held; protesting meanwhile their good intentions, but declaring it necessary to summon a general assembly of the episcopate, and demanding guarantees for the safety of Church property. The presence of Louis the German in the province of Rheims, where he came to spend the Christmas season, and to take up his winter quarters, made no difference in the Bishops’ attitude.

However, Charles the Bald, with the help of the Abbot Hugh and Count Conrad, had rallied all the supporters that remained to him at Auxerre. On 9 January he suddenly left his retreat and marched against his brother. Many of the German lords had set out to return to their own country. The Western magnates, not seeing any sufficient advantage to be gained under the new government, showed no more hesitation in deserting it than they had in accepting it. At Jouy, near Soissons, where the sudden appearance of his brother took Louis by surprise, the German found himself left with so small a proportion of his quondam followers that in his turn he was forced to retreat without striking a blow. By the spring of 859 Charles had regained his authority. Naturally, he made use of it to punish those who had betrayed him. Adalard lost his Abbey of Saint-Bertin which was given to the Abbot Hugh, and Odo lost his counties. What makes it plain that for the magnates the whole affair was simply a question of material gain, is that in the negotiations which Charles opened with Louis the point that he specially insisted on was that the latter, in exchange for the renewal of their alliance, should abandon to his discretion those magnates who had shared in the defection, in order that he might deprive them of their estates. The negotiations, moreover, proved long and thorny, despite the intervention of Lothar II. Synods and embassies, even an interview between the two sovereigns, in a boat midway across the Rhine, produced no results. It was not until the colloquy held at St Castor in Coblence on 1 June 860, in the presence of a large number of bishops, Hincmar being among them, that Louis and Charles succeeded in coming to terms. Charles the Bald promised to leave his magnates in possession of the fiefs which they had received from Louis the German, reserving his right to deprive them of those which he himself had previously bestowed on them. The oaths of peace and concord made in 851 at Meersen were again sworn to. Louis made a declaration to this effect in the German tongue, denouncing the severest penalties on all who should violate the agreement, a declaration afterwards repeated by Charles in the Romance language, and even in German as far as the more important passages were concerned.

Briefly, it was a return to the status quo as it had been before the sudden stroke attempted by Louis. A fresh match was about to be played, the stake this time being the kingdom of Lothar II.

From about 860 to 870 the whole policy of the Carolingian kings turns mainly on the question of the king of Lorraine’s divorce and the possible succession to his crown. In 855, Lothar had been compelled by his father to marry Theutberga, a maiden of noble family, sister of a lord named Hubert whose estates were situated on the upper valley of the Rhone, and who seems about this time to have been made by the Emperor governor “of the duchy between the Jura and the Alps” corresponding roughly to French Switzerland of today. The marriage was evidently arranged with the object of ensuring for the young king the support of a powerful family. But before it took place, Lothar had had a mistress named Waldrada, by whom he had children, and this woman seems to have acquired over him an extraordinary ascendency, which contemporaries, as a matter of course, attribute to the use of magic. From the very beginning of his reign, Lothar bent all his energy towards the single end of ridding himself, by any possible means, of the consort chosen by his father, and raising his former mistress to the title and rank of a legitimate wife. Theutberga had not borne an heir to Lothar and seems to have been considered incapable of doing so, although this was not used as a weapon against her by her adversaries. On the other hand, it was the consideration which determined the attitude of the other sovereigns and helped to make the question of the Lorraine divorce, it may almost be said, an international one. If Lothar were to die childless, it would mean the partition of his inheritance among his relations, practically between his two uncles, for his brother Charles, epileptic and near his end, was in no position to interfere, while Louis II, himself without an heir, was too much occupied in Southern Italy to be a very serious competitor.

Hostile measures against Theutberga had been taken almost at the very beginning of the new king’s reign. He hurled at his wife a charge of incest with her brother Hubert. But a champion nominated by the queen submitted himself on her behalf to the Judgment of God by the ordeal of boiling water. The result was the solemn proclamation of Theutberga’s innocence, and Lothar II was obliged to yield to the wishes of his nobles and take back his wife. Hubert, for his part, had revolted, and under the pretext of defending his sister was indulging in acts of brigandage in the upper valley of the Rhone. An expedition sent against him by the king of Lorraine had produced no results. Thus the cession made (859) by Lothar to his brother Louis II of the three dioceses of Geneva, Lausanne and Sion had been designed, quite as much to rid the kingdom of Lorraine of a turbulent noble as to conciliate the good will of the Emperor. In the same way, Lothar had, the year before, attempted to win over Charles of Provence, by ceding to him the two dioceses of Belley and Tarentaise, in exchange, indeed, for a treaty securing to him the inheritance of his young brother, in the event, which seemed not unlikely, of the latter’s dying childless. The conflict of 858-9 had displayed Lothar’s anxiety to keep on good terms with both of his uncles by abstaining from interference on behalf of either. At the same time an active campaign was being kept up against Theutberga, organized by two prelates devoted to the king of Lorraine, Theutgaud, Archbishop of Treves, and Gunther, Archbishop of Cologne. The latter even, with skilful treachery, contrived to become confessor to the persecuted queen. In January 860, Lothar thought himself sure enough of his position to convoke a council at Aix-la-Chapelle before which he appeared, declaring that his wife herself acknowledged her guilt, and petitioned to be allowed to take the veil. The bishops did not profess themselves convinced, and demanded that a fresh assembly should be held, to which were summoned foreign bishops and in particular Hincmar. But the latter did not respond to the invitation, and it was at a synod composed exclusively of Lorrainers, and again held at Aix, that Theutberga herself was present and read a confession, evidently drawn up by Gunther and his accomplices, in which she acknowledged herself guilty of the crimes imputed to her. On this occasion the bishops were obliged to accept as valid the declaration thus made by the queen and to condemn her. But they avoided coming to a decision on the point which lay nearest to Lothar’s heart, viz., the possibility of his contracting another marriage. He was forced to content himself with the imprisonment of Theutberga without advancing any further towards the execution of his plans.

Some months later the dispute was reopened. Hincmar stepped into the lists by putting forth his voluminous treatise De divortio Lotharii, in which he showed clearly the weakness of the arguments used against Theutberga, and pronounced confessions extorted by constraint and violence null, while demanding that the question should be examined in a general council of the bishops of the Franks. The treatise of the Archbishop of Rheims was of exceptional importance, due not only to the reputation which he enjoyed in the ecclesiastical world as a theologian and canonist, but also to his political prominence in the Western Kingdom as the adviser of Charles the Bald. The latter thus took his place among the declared opponents of Lothar II’s matrimonial policy. He gave further proof of this attitude by affording shelter in his kingdom to Hubert, who was forced to quit Lorraine, and to Theutberga, who had succeeded in making her escape. Lothar, indeed, retorted by offering a refuge to Judith, Charles’s daughter, the widow of the old English king Aethelwulf; she had just arranged to be carried off by Baldwin Iron-arm, first Count of Flanders, son of Odoacer, whom she married in spite of her father’s opposition. And Charles at the same time met with a check in Provence. Called in by a party of the magnates of the country, he had imagined himself in a position to lay hands on his nephew's kingdom. But Gerard of Roussillon was mounting guard over the young prince, and in the face of his energetic opposition, Charles was obliged to beat a retreat after having advanced as far as Burgundy (861). At the same time Lothar was making advances to his other uncle, Louis the German, whose friendship he endeavored to make sure of by ceding to him Alsace, or at least the prospect of possessing it whenever the king of Lorraine should die. Lothar now thought himself strong enough to convoke at Aix a fresh council, which this time declared the marriage contracted with Theutberga null and void, and consequently pronounced the king free to form a fresh union. Lothar, before long, made use of this permission by marrying Waldrada and having her solemnly crowned. But Theutberga, for her part, appealed to the Pope to quash the sentences pronounced against her. Lothar retorted by petitioning the sovereign pontiff to confirm the judgments which had been given. At the same time, in concert with Louis the German, he complained to the Pope of the conduct of Charles the Bald, “who, without any show of right, was seeking to lay hands on the inheritance of his nephews”.

Meanwhile Charles was gaining power in his own kingdom. He had just defeated the Bretons under their King Solomon, and suppressed a revolt of his own son Louis the Stammerer, while the magnates who had risen against him in 858-859 were one by one making their submission to him. The invasions by the Northmen indeed were still going on. Paris had again been pillaged in 861. The hordes of the viking Weland, whom Charles had hoped to hire for money and employ against their compatriots in the island of Oscellum, had made common cause with the latter and had ravaged the Seine valley as far as Melun. Charles had discovered a method of resisting them, and from the time of the assembly at Pitres (862) began to put it into practice. It was to have fortified works constructed along the rivers which the Normans ascended, particularly bridges, which should bar the way to the invaders. This new departure in tactics produced fairly good results during the years that followed. In 862, Charles, in this way, cut off the retreat of the bands which had forced their way into the Meaux country, and compelled them to promise to give up the prisoners they had made and to quit the kingdom. During the succeeding years, we find the king taking measures to complete the defenses of the valleys of the Seine and Oise. It is true that these precautions did not hinder the Northmen from again burning Paris in 865, and from penetrating as far as Melun in 866. This time Charles could only rid himself of them by paying them ransom. But on the other hand, the Marquess Robert the Strong defeated the Northmen of the Loire on several occasions, and up to his death in the fight at Brissarthe (866) the valor of “the Maccabaeus of France” opposed substantial resistance to the invaders of Anjou and Maine.

In the affair of Lothar, neither Charles nor Hincmar would give way. The king of Western France had shown himself determined strenuously to maintain the fight on behalf of the indissolubility of marriage, and declared that he would hold no further intercourse with his nephew until he should take back Theutberga. He repeated this resolution at the interview which he had with his brother Louis at Savonnières near Toul (November 862), to which Lothar had sent as his representatives several of the bishops of his kingdom. Charles accused his nephew of being a cause of double scandal to the Christian Church by the favor he had shown to the guilty connection between Baldwin and Judith, and by marrying Waldrada without waiting for the opinion of the Pope. He called for the assembling of a general council to pronounce definitively on both these questions. In the end, Lothar agreed, so far as Judith's case was concerned, but in the matter of the divorce he declared that he would await the decision of the Pope. Charles was obliged to be content with this reply, and to take leave of his brother, having done nothing more than renew the treaty of peace and alliance concluded in 860 at Coblence.

The death of Charles of Provence (25 January 863) made little change in the respective positions of the sovereigns. The dead man left no children; his heirs therefore were his two brothers, for Louis II does not appear to have recognized the treaty concluded in 858 between Charles and Lothar II, by which the latter was to succeed to the whole of the inheritance. Therefore the two rivals hastened to reach Provence, each being eager to win over the magnates of the country to his own side. The seemingly inevitable conflict was warded off, thanks to an agreement which gave Provence, strictly so-called, as far as the Durance to the Emperor, and to the king of Lorraine the Lyonnais and the Viennois, that is to say the Duchy of Lyon, of which Gerard of Roussillon was governor.

But the question of Theutberga was still not definitely settled, and for the years that followed, it remained the subject of difficult negotiations, on the one hand between the different Frankish sovereigns, and on the other between these sovereigns and the Pope. The situation was eminently favorable to a Pope of the character of Nicholas I, who, in 858 had taken the place of Benedict III on the papal throne. Being petitioned to intervene at once by Theutberga, Lothar, and the opponents of Lothar, he could take up the position of the arbiter of the Christian world. Meanwhile, without deciding the question himself, he resolved to hand over the settlement of it to a great council to be held at Metz at which not only the bishops of Lorraine should be present, but two representatives of the episcopate in each of the kingdoms of France, Germany and Provence. The assembly was to be presided over by two envoys from the Holy See, John, Bishop of Cervia, and Radoald, Bishop of Porto. But Lothar’s partisans were on the alert, and were working to gain time. The papal letters carried by the two legates were stolen from them by skilful thieves and they were forced to apply for new ones. While they were waiting, and while, on the other hand, Lothar’s absence in Provence to take up the inheritance of his brother delayed the calling of the Council, the emissaries of Gunther and Theutgaud succeeded in bribing Radoald and his colleague. The legates failed to convoke the foreign bishops, and the purely Lotharingian synod held at Metz was a tool in the hands of Gunther. It therefore confirmed the decisions of the assembly of Aix, basing them on the ground of an alleged marriage between Lothar and Waldrada, previous to his union with Theutberga (June 863).

This statement, improbable as being now produced for the first time, did not suffice to appease the righteous anger of Nicholas I when he learned by what methods the case had been conducted. He did not hesitate to quash the decisions of the Council, to condemn Radoald and John, and, irregular as the proceeding was, to depose Gunther and Theutgaud by the exercise of his own authority. On the other hand, Louis II, who had shown some disposition, at first, to support the Lotharingian bishops, now abandoned his brother, in spite of the interview which he had just had with him at Orbe. Louis the German and Charles the Bald, on the contrary, drew closer together. In February 865, they had an interview at Tusey, where, under color of renewing their mutual oaths of peace and concord, and of reprehending their nephew, they arranged a treaty for the eventual partition of his lands. The Lotharingian bishops became restive, and drew up a protest to their brethren in Gaul and Provence, in which they declared themselves ready to support their sovereign “calumniated by the malignant”. Lothar, equally alarmed, dreading an armed collision with his uncles, and dreading no less that the Pope should pronounce him excommunicate, thought it advisable to have recourse himself to the Holy See, and by the mediation of the Emperor to announce to the Pope that he was prepared to submit to his decision, provided that a guarantee was given him that the integrity of his kingdom should be respected.

Nicholas I was now become the mediator between kings and the supreme judge of Christendom. He immediately dispatched a legate, Arsenius, Bishop of Orta, with orders to convey to the three sovereigns the expression of the Pope’s will. After an interview with Louis the German at Frankfort, Arsenius reached Lothar's court at Gondreville by the month of July 865, and in the Pope’s name, called upon him to take back Theutberga on pain of excommunication. Lothar was obliged to promise obedience. Arsenius then betook himself to Attigny to present to Charles the Bald letters from the Pope, exhorting him to respect his nephew's territory. From thence he went back to Lorraine, bringing with him Theutberga whom he restored to her husband. On 15 August he celebrated a solemn High Mass before the royal pair who were invested with the insignia of sovereignty, before he began his return journey to Rome, on which he was accompanied by Waldrada, who, in her turn, was to answer for her actions before the Pope. The legation had resulted in a triumph for Nicholas. In the presence of the Pope's clearly expressed requirements, peace had been restored between the kings, and Theutberga had regained her rank as queen. Thanks to his own firmness and skill, the Pope had acted as supreme arbiter; not only Lothar, but Charles the Bald and Louis the German had been obliged to bow before him.

Nevertheless, in the succeeding years, it would appear that Lothar conceived some hope of being able to reopen the divorce question and attain his desired object. Waldrada had hardly arrived at Pavia, when without the formality of a farewell, she succeeded in eluding the legate and in returning to Lorraine, where she remained, in spite of the excommunication launched against her by Nicholas I. Besides this, Charles the Bald’s attitude towards his nephew became somewhat less uncompromising, doubtless on account of the temporary disgrace of Hincmar, the most faithful champion of the cause of the indissolubility of marriage. The king of the Western Franks even had a meeting with Lothar at Ortivineas, perhaps Orvignes near Bar-le-Duc, when the two princes agreed to take up the divorce question afresh by sending an embassy to Rome under the direction of Egilo, the metropolitan of Sens. But the Pope refused point-blank to fall in with their views, and replied by addressing the bitterest reproaches to Charles, and above all to Lothar, whom he forbade ever to dream of renewing his relations with Waldrada. The death of Nicholas I (13 November 867) gave a new aspect to affairs. His successor, Hadrian II, was a man of much less firmness and consistency, almost of a timorous disposition, and much under the influence of Louis II, that is, of Lothar’s brother and ally. Thus, while refusing to receive Theutberga, whom Lothar had thought of compelling to accuse herself before the Pope, and while congratulating Hincmar on his attitude throughout the affair, and again proclaiming the principle of the indissolubility of marriage, the new Pope soon relieved Waldrada from her sentence of excommunication. Lothar resolved to go and plead his case in person at Rome. Hadrian consented to his taking this step, which Nicholas I had always refused to sanction. The only consideration which could arouse Lothar's uneasiness was the attitude of his uncles. The latter, indeed, despite a recent letter from the Pope taking up the position of the defender of the integrity of the kingdoms, had just come to an agreement at St Arnulf’s of Metz, that “in case God should bestow on them the kingdoms of their nephews, they would proceed to a fair and amicable division of them” (867 or 868).

However, in the spring of 869, having extracted from Charles and Louis some vague assurances that they would undertake nothing against his kingdom during his absence, even if he married Waldrada, Lothar set out on his journey with the intention of visiting the Emperor in order to obtain his support at the papal court. Louis II was then at Benevento, warring against the Saracens. At first he showed himself little disposed to interfere, but his wife, Engilberga, proved willing to play the part of mediator, and, in the end, an interview took place at Monte Cassino between Hadrian and Lothar. The latter received the Eucharist from the hands of the Pope, less, perhaps, as the pledge of pardon than as a kind of judgment of God. “Receive this communion”, the Pope is reported to have said to Lothar, “if you are innocent of the adultery condemned by Nicholas. If, on the contrary, thy conscience accuse thee of guilt, or if you are minded to fall back into sin, refrain; otherwise by this Sacrament you shall be judged and condemned”. A dramatic coloring may have been thrown over the incident, but when he left Monte Cassino, Lothar bore with him the promise that the question should again be submitted to a Council. This, for him, meant the hope of undoing the sentence of Nicholas I. Death, which surprised him on his way back, at Piacenza, on 8 August 869, put an end to his plans.

His successor, by right of inheritance, was, strictly speaking, the Emperor Louis. But he was little known outside his Italian kingdom, and appears not to have had many supporters in Lorraine, unless perhaps in the duchy of Lyons, which was close to his Provençal possessions. In Lorraine proper, on the contrary, there were two opposed parties, a German party and a French party, each supporting one of the uncles of the dead king. But Louis the German was detained at Ratisbon by sickness.

Thus circumstances favored Charles the Bald, who hastened to take advantage of them by entering Lorraine. An embassy from the magnates, which came to meet him at Attigny to remind him of the respect due to the treaty which he had made with his brother at Metz, produced no result. By way of Verdun he reached Metz, where in the presence of the French and Lotharingian nobles, and of several prelates, among them the Bishops of Toul, Liège, and Verdun, Charles was solemnly crowned king of Lorraine in the cathedral of St Stephen on 9 September 869. When, a little later, he heard of the death of his wife Queen Ermentrude (6 October), Charles sought to strengthen his position in the country by taking first as his mistress and afterwards as his lawful wife (22 January 870) a noble lady named Richilda, a relation of Theutberga, the former queen, belonging to one of the most important families in Lorraine; on her brother Boso Charles heaped honors and benefices.

Neither Louis the German nor Louis II could do more than protest against the annexation of Lorraine to the Western Kingdom, the former in virtue of the Treaty of Metz, the latter in right of his near relationship to the dead king. To the envoys of both, Charles the Bald had returned evasive answers, while he was convoking the magnates of his new kingdom at Gondreville to obtain from them the oath of fealty. But those who attended the assembly were few in number. Louis the German’s party was recovering strength. Charles was made aware of it when he attempted to substitute for the deposed Gunther in the see of Cologne, a French candidate, Hilduin. The Archbishop of Metz, Liutbert, a faithful supporter of the king of Germany, set up in opposition a certain Willibert who ultimately won the day. On the other hand, Charles was more successful at Treves, where he was able to install the candidate of his choice. 

Meanwhile, Louis the German, having recovered, had collected an army, and, calling on his brother to evacuate his conquest, marched in his turn upon Lorraine, where his partisans came round him to do him homage (spring 870). An armed struggle seemed imminent, but the Carolingians had little love for fighting. Brisk negotiations began, in which the principal part was taken by Liutbert, Archbishop of Mayence, representing Louis, and Odo, Bishop of Beauvais, on behalf of Charles. In the end, the diplomatists came to an agreement based on the partition of Lorraine. The task of carrying it into effect was at first entrusted to a commission of magnates, but difficulties were not long in arising. It was decided that the two kings should meet. But the interview was delayed by an accident which happened to Louis the German, through a floor giving way, and only took place on 8 August at Meersen on the banks of the Meuse. Here the manner of the division of Lothar II’s former dominions was definitely settled. The Divisio regni, the text of which has been preserved in the Annals of Hincmar, shows that no attention was paid to natural boundaries, to language or even to existing divisions, whether ecclesiastical or civil, since certain counties were cut in two, e.g. the Ornois. An endeavor was made to divide between the two sovereigns, as equally as possible, the sources of revenue, i.e. the counties, bishoprics and abbeys. Louis received the bishoprics of Cologne, Treves, Metz, Strasbourg and Basle, with a portion of those of Toul and Liege. Charles, besides a large share of the two last, was given that of Cambrai, together with the metropolitan see of Besançon, and the counties of Lyon and Vienne with the Vivarais, that is to say the lands which Lothar had acquired after the death of Charles of Provence. Without entering into details as to the division of the pagi in the north part of the kingdom of Lorraine, from the mouths of the Rhine to Toul, it is substantially true to say that the course of the Meuse and a part of that of the Moselle formed the border line between the two kingdoms. Thence the frontier ran to the Saone valley, and the limits thus fixed, although not lasting, had distinct influence later in the Middle Ages.

Hardly was the treaty of Meersen concluded, when the brother-kings of Gaul and Germany were confronted by deputies from the Pope and the Emperor, protesting, in the name of the latter, against the conduct of his uncles in thus robbing him of the inheritance which was his by right. Hincmar replied by endeavoring to justify his master, and by dwelling on the necessity of preserving peace in Lorraine; Charles, for his part, bestowed fair words and rich gifts on the Pope. As to Louis the German, he professed himself ready to make over what he had acquired of Lothar's lands to Louis II. These assurances, however, were not followed by any practical result, and Charles spent the latter part of the year in completing the subjection of the southern part of his newly-acquired dominions. Lyon was occupied without a struggle. Only Vienne, which was defended by Bertha, wife of Gerard of Roussillon, who was himself ensconced in a castle in the neighborhood, made some resistance, surrendering, however, in the end (24 December 870). Charles was recalled to France by the rebellion of his son Carloman, who had forsaken his father's expedition in order to collect bands of partisans and ravage his kingdom. Louis the German was at the same time engaged in a struggle with his two sons who had risen against him. Charles confided the government of the Viennois and Provence to his brother-in-law Boso as duke, and turned homewards.

In the meanwhile, a report spread through Gaul and Germany that the Emperor Louis II had been taken prisoner and put to death by Adelchis, Prince of Benevento. In reality the latter had merely subjected his sovereign to a few days’ captivity (August 871). But Louis the German and Charles the Bald had lost no time in showing that each intended to appropriate for himself the inheritance left by the deceased; Louis by sending his son Charles the Fat beyond the Alps, in order to gather adherents, and Charles by setting out himself at the head of an army. However, he went no farther than Besançon, when the two competitors were stopped by the news that the Emperor was still alive. But during the three following years we find both brothers bent on eventually securing the heritage of the king of Italy; Louis the German being supported, it would seem, by the Empress Engilberga, while Charles the Bald, who had rid himself of his rebellious son Carloman, whom he had succeeded in making prisoner and whose eyes he had put out, was trying to form a party among the Roman nobles and those surrounding the new Pope, John VIII, who in December 872 had taken the place of Hadrian. The death of Louis II at Brescia (12 August 875) led to an open struggle between the two rivals.


Reign of the Emperor Louis II in Italy

For a long time the kingdom of Italy had stood considerably apart from the other Carolingian states. Louis the Pious and Lothar had already placed it in a somewhat special position by sending as their representatives there each his eldest son, already associated in the Empire, and bearing the title of king. Since 855 the Emperor had been restricted to the possession of Italy, where he had already received the royal title in 844, and where his coronation as joint-Emperor had taken place (Rome, April 850). Apart from matters concerning the inheritance of his brothers, it does not seem that Louis II held that his office imposed on him the duty of interfering in affairs beyond the Alps. The Emperor had been obliged to devote his chief attention to his duties as king of Italy, and the defense of the country entrusted to him against the attacks of its enemies, particularly the Saracens. But circumstances were too strong for him, and in spite of his activity and energy, Louis II was fated to wear himself out in a struggle of thirty years, and yet neither to leave undisputed authority to his successor, nor finally to expel the Muslims from Italian soil. The royal power had never been very great in the peninsula. The Frankish counts, who had taken the place of the Lombard lords, had quickly acquired the habit of independence. The bishops and abbots had seen their temporal power grow in extent, through numerous grants of lands and immunities. On the other hand, three strong powers, outside the Papal state, had taken shape out of the ancient duchies of Friuli and Spoleto, and in Tuscany. The counts of Frankish origin were reviving the former Lombard title of duke, or the Frankish one of marquess, and regular dynasties of princes, by no means very amenable to the orders of the sovereign, were established at Cividale, Lucca and. Spoleto. The March of Friuli, set up between the Livenza and the Isonzo to ward off the attacks of Slavs and Avars, although its ruler, no doubt, had extended his authority over other countries beyond these limits, had, in the time of Lothar, been bestowed on a certain Count Everard, husband of Gisela, the youngest daughter of Louis the Pious. This man, coming originally from the districts along the Meuse, where his family still remained powerful, was richly endowed with counties and abbeys, and played a distinguished part in the wars against the Serbs, dying in 864 or 865. His immediate successor was his son, Unroch, who died young, and then his second son, Berengar, who was destined to play a conspicuous part in Italy at the end of the ninth century, and who seems from an early date to have thrown in his lot in politics with the partisans of Louis the German and the Empress Engilberga. The ducal family established at Spoleto also came from France, from the valley of the Moselle. It was descended from Guy, Count of the March of Brittany under Louis the Pious. His son Lambert, who at first bore the same title, derived from the March, was a devoted adherent of Lothar, and, as such, had been banished to Italy where he died. It is this Lambert's son, Guy (Guido) who appears as the first Frankish Duke of Spoleto. Brother-in-law of Siconolf, Prince of Benevento, he contrived to interfere skillfully in the wars among the Lombard princes, betray his allies at well-chosen junctures, and add to his duchy various cities, SoraAtino, etc., the spoil of Siconolf or his rivals. He died about 858. His son Lambert showed himself an intractable vassal, sometimes the ally of Louis II, and again at open war with him, or fugitive at the court of the princes of Benevento. He was even temporarily deprived of his duchy, which was transferred to a cousin of the Empress Engilberga, Count Suppo. After the Emperor Louis’s death, however, Lambert is found again in possession of his duchy, and like his brother Guy, Count of Camerino, is counted among the adherents of Charles the Bald. In Tuscany the ducal family was of Bavarian origin, tracing its descent from Count Boniface who, in the beginning of the ninth century was established at Lucca and was also entrusted with the defense of Corsica. His grandson, Adalbert, succeeded in consolidating his position by marrying Rotilda, daughter of Guy of Spoleto. As to Southern Italy, beyond the Sangro and the Volturno, the Lombard principalities there, in spite of formal acts of submission, remained, like the Greek territories, outside the Carolingian Empire. The power of the Princes of Benevento was considerably diminished after the formation of the principality of Salerno, cut off from the original duchy in 848. From the middle of the ninth century, the Gastalds of Capua also affected to consider themselves independent of the prince reigning at Benevento. The Frankish sovereign could hardly do otherwise than seek to foment these internal dissensions and try to obtain from the combatants promises of vassalage or even the delivery of hostages. But Louis II made no real attempt to compel the submission of the Lombards of Benevento and Salerno, who were firmly attached to their local dynasties and to their independence. If he interfered on several occasions beyond the limits of the States of the Church and the Duchy of Spoleto, it was not as suzerain, but as the ally of the inhabitants in their struggle against the common enemies of all Italy, the Saracens.

These latter, who came from Africa and Spain, were for more than a hundred years to be to the peninsula nearly as great a scourge as the Northmen were to Gaul and Germany. In 827 they had gained a foothold in Sicily and four years afterwards (831), taking advantage of the dissensions between the Byzantine governors, they seized Palermo and Messina and made themselves masters of the whole island. In 837 the Duke of Naples, Andrew, set the fatal example of calling them in as allies in his struggle with Sicard of Benevento, to whom he was refusing the tribute he had promised. Thenceforward, in spite of engagements to the contrary, Italian dukes and Greek governors constantly took Muslim pirates into their pay. Other bands having seized various Greek cities such as Taranto, we get the pillage of the towns on the Adriatic, e.g. Ancona (839). In 840 the treachery of the Gastald Pando handed over to them Bari, where they fixed themselves permanently, and it was the Saracens of Bari whom Radelchis of Benevento employed as auxiliaries during his struggle with Siconolf of Salerno. Other pirate crews attempted the siege of Naples, but the city offered a determined resistance, and its duke, Sergius, at the head of a fleet collected from the Campanian ports, won the naval victory of Licosa over the invaders in 846. Repulsed from the Campanian shores, the pirates fell upon the coast nearest to Rome. In order to keep them out of the Tiber, Pope Gregory IV had built a fortress at its mouth. This did not prevent the pirates from landing on the right bank of the river and even pushing their ravages as far as the gates of Rome. Unable to force their way in, they sacked the basilica of St Peter, which was then outside the walls, profaning the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles.

This sacrilege created a profound sensation throughout Christendom. It was, indeed, related that a tempest destroyed the invaders with the precious booty with which they were laden. But the truth appears to be that Louis II, as he was advancing to the rescue of the city, met with a check, and that the Saracens retired unmolested with their spoil. A great expedition organized against them in the spring of the next year (847) by Lothar I and Louis II had no important results. Louis, however, took advantage of being in the south of Italy to put an end by treaty to the contest between Radelchis and Siconolf, definitively separating by a precise frontier line the two principalities of Benevento and Salerno. The Roman suburbs had arisen from their ruins, and Pope Leo IV (847-8) had built a wall round the basilica of St Peter and the quarter on the right bank of the Tiber, enclosing what became “the Leonine City”. In 851-2 the Lombards again appealed to Louis II. The latter delivered Benevento from the body of Saracens which had settled down there, but being badly supported by his allies, he was unable to take Bari, the Muslim garrison of which, as soon as the Frankish army had withdrawn, recommenced its devastating raids into the surrounding country. It was at this time that the Saracens pillaged the famous abbeys of Monte Cassino and St Vincent of Volturno. In 867 the Emperor made a fresh expedition against them, and laid siege to Bari. But it was impossible to reduce the town without the help of a squadron to blockade it from the sea. Louis II, therefore, attempted to secure the aid of the Greek fleet by an alliance with the Basileus, arranging for the marriage of his daughter Ermengarde with the son of Basil, the Eastern Emperor. A Greek fleet did, indeed, appear off Bari, but the marriage not having taken place, it drew off. Louis was not discouraged, and made a general appeal to his subjects in the maritime provinces, even to the half-subjected Slavs to the north of the Adriatic. After many vicissitudes, the town was carried by assault (2 February 871). But the Lombards of Benevento cordially detested their Frankish deliverers, and their prince, Adelchis, feared that the Emperor might take advantage of his success to assert his sovereignty over Southern Italy. In consequence of his hostility, he laid an ambush which threw the Emperor a prisoner into his hands. Adelchis extorted from his captive a promise not to re-enter Southern Italy. A report of the Emperor's death was even current in Gaul and Germany. But Louis II, being quickly set at liberty, obtained from the Pope a dispensation from the oath he had sworn, and renewed the campaign next year (873), without however having attained any advantage. On 12 August 875 he was suddenly carried off by death.

Such was the state of affairs in Italy at the moment when Charles the Bald and Louis the German were preparing to dispute with one another the heritage left by their nephew. The succession question which presented itself, was, it is true, a complicated one. The dead Emperor left only a daughter. The territories which he had ruled, ought, it would seem, to have been divided by agreement between his two uncles. But if the imperial dignity had, since the time of Charlemagne, been considered inalienable from his family, no rule of succession had yet been established, even by custom, which could be applied to it. In practice, it seemed to be bound up with the possession of Italy, and to require as indispensable conditions the election of the candidate, at least in theory, by the Roman people, and his consecration at the hands of the Pope. Now Charles the Bald had on his side the sympathy of John VIII, who claimed that he was only carrying out the wishes already expressed by Nicholas I himself. Charles has been accused of having entangled the Pope by means of offerings and grants. In reality, what John VIII most desired seems to have been a strong and energetic Emperor capable of taking up the task to which Louis II had devoted himself, and of defending the Holy See against the Saracens. Rightly or wrongly, he believed that he had found his ideal in Charles, who was, in addition, well-educated and a lover of letters, and had besides for a long time given his attention to Italy, whither he had been summoned by a party of the magnates at the time of the false report of the death of Louis II. His possession, too, of Provence and of the Viennois, made it possible for him to interfere beyond the Alps more readily than his brother of Germany could do. He took action, besides, with promptness and decision. Hardly had the news of his nephew's death reached him at Douzy near Sedan than he summoned an assembly of magnates at Ponthion near Chalons to nominate his comrades on the expedition. He crossed the Great St Bernard, and had scarcely arrived in Italy when he was met by the envoys of the Pope bearing an invitation to him to come to Rome to be crowned. Louis the German was not inclined to see his brother go to this length without a protest. He dispatched his two sons in succession beyond the Alps with an army. Charles the Fat was immediately obliged to beat a retreat. Carloman, more fortunate, succeeded in meeting Charles the Bald on the banks of the Brenta, and, after the Carolingian manner, opened negotiations. Either, as the German analysts say, his uncle got the better of him by deceitful promises, or else he felt himself too weak to fight the matter out. He, therefore, arranged a truce, and returned to Germany without a blow.

Meanwhile Louis the German had made an attack upon Lorraine, having been called in by a disgraced chamberlain, Enguerand, who had been deprived of his office for the benefit of the favorite Boso. Ravaging the country terribly as he went, Louis reached the palace of Attigny on 25 December 875, where he waited for adherents to come in. But the defections on which he had counted did not take place, and the invader, for want of sufficient support, was obliged to retreat and make his way back to Mayence. Charles, meanwhile, had not allowed himself to be turned from his object by the news from Lorraine. He was bent on the Empire. He had reached Rome, and on Christmas Day 875 he received the imperial diadem from the hands of John VIII. But he did not delay long in Rome, and having obtained from John the title of Vicar of the Pope in Gaul for Ansegis, Archbishop of Sens, he began his journey homewards on 5 January 876. On January 31 he was at Pavia, where he had himself solemnly elected and recognized as king of Italy by an assembly of magnates. Leaving Boso to govern this new kingdom, he again set forward, and was back at Saint-Denis in time to keep Easter (15 April). In the month of June, in company with the two papal legates who had come with him from Italy, John, Bishop of Arezzo, and John, Bishop of Toscanella, he held a great assembly of nobles and bishops at Ponthion, when he appeared wearing the imperial ornaments. The council solemnly recognized the new dignity which the Pope had conferred on the king of the West Franks. Charles would have wished also to secure its assent to the grant of the vicariate to Ansegis, but on this point he met with strong resistance. To the same assembly came envoys from Louis the German, demanding in his name an equitable partition of the territories formerly ruled by Louis II. Charles appeared to recognize these pretensions as well-founded. In his turn he sent an embassy to his brother and opened negotiations. They were interrupted by the death of Louis the German, at Frankfort (28 August 876).

The dead king left three sons. In accordance with arrangements which had been made beforehand but often modified in detail, the eldest, Carloman, was to receive Bavaria and the East Mark, the second, Louis, Saxony and Franconia, and the third, Charles the Fat, Alemannia. These dispositions were according to precedent. It is thus difficult to conceive by what right Charles the Bald professed to claim that portion of Lorraine which by the Treaty of Meersen had been allocated to his brother. None the less, it is certain that he hastened to send off emissaries to the country, charged with the business of gaining supporters for his cause, and then set out himself for Metz, Aix-la-Chapelle and Cologne. But Louis the Younger, on his side, had raised an army in Saxony and Thuringia, and sent deputies, although vainly, to call upon his uncle to respect his rights. He himself had recourse to the judgment of God, and when the ordeal proved favorable to his champions, he crossed the Rhine at Andernach. In the meanwhile, fresh envoys bearing proposals of peace sought Charles the Bald on his behalf. His uncle feigned willingness to enter into negotiations. But during the night of 7-8 October, he suddenly struck his camp and began a forward march, hoping to surprise his sleeping enemies in the early dawn. The season, however, was inclement, the roads were soaked with rain, and the cavalry, which was the principal arm of Carolingian forces, could only advance with difficulty. Besides this, a faithful adherent of Louis the Younger in Charles's own camp, had succeeded in warning his master of the coup-de-main about to be attempted against him. Thus the imperial army, fatigued by the night march, found the enemy, whom they had thought to surprise, on his guard. The result was a disastrous defeat of the troops of Charles. Numerous prisoners and rich spoil fell to the victor. But it would appear that Louis was not in a position to profit by his advantage, for almost immediately we find him falling back on Aix and Frankfort. Charles, for his part, made no second attempt against him, and shortly afterwards, without any formal treaty having been concluded, peace was restored between the two kings, marked by the liberation of the prisoners taken at Andernach.

Charles the Bald was, besides, absorbed by other anxieties. If his election had been the act of John VIII, the reason was that the Pope needed his help in Italy against the Saracens. Not satisfied with promises of troops and missi, he unceasingly demanded Charles’s presence in Italy. Two papal legates again approached Charles at Compiegne at the beginning of 877, and finally drew from him a pledge that he would cross the Alps in the course of the summer. The moment, however, was not favorable, for the Northmen were showing increased activity. In 876 a hundred of their ships had gone up the Seine and threatened the rich abbey of St-Denis, driving the monks to flee to a safer retreat on the banks of the Aisne. Charles the Bald decided to negotiate with them once more, and on 7 May 877 he ordered the collection of a special impost, a tributum Normannicum, destined to produce the five thousand pounds of silver needed to purchase the withdrawal of the Northmen from the Seine. On 14 June he assembled the magnates at Quierzy (Kiersy), where he promulgated a celebrated capitulary which has been too long held to be the charter constituting the feudal system, a legislative measure establishing the hereditary nature of fiefs, the deliberate completion of a process of evolution which had been going on from 847, the date at which the Capitulary of Meersen ordered every free man to choose a lord for himself. In 847 what was really in question was a measure to facilitate the levy of the host. In 877 at Quierzy, a whole body of very diverse measures were introduced, their object being to secure the good government of the kingdom, and the proper administration of the private property of the king during his absence, or even in case he should happen to die while on his expedition. The prince, Louis (the Stammerer), was to take his father's place with the assistance of counselors, the choice of whom shows that the Emperor was not entirely free from distrust of his heir. An article in the capitulary orders Louis not to deprive the son of any count who should die during the campaign of the honors enjoyed by the father. Here we have a seal set upon the custom which was becoming more and more general, namely that the honors held by the father should be continued to the son, but at the same time we get the implicit recognition of the sovereign’s right to dispose of the fiefs which, in principle, he has granted for life only, a right which Louis might possibly abuse.

Charles, accompanied by Richilda, set out at the end of June. He brought with him only a small number of his chief vassals; others, of whom Boso was one, were to join him a little later at the head of an army which they had received orders to assemble. The Emperor took the St Bernard route, and met John VIII who had advanced as far as Vercelli to receive him. But, at the same time as Charles, Carloman of Bavaria had been crossing the Alps at the head of a powerful army, and now made his appearance in the eastern part of Lombardy. Charles, uneasy at this, hurried on the coronation of Richilda as Empress, and sent her back to Gaul, demanding the hastening forward of the reinforcements which he was awaiting. But his presentiments were realized. The magnates had been irritated to see him depart thus, giving up the struggle with the Northmen, which in the eyes of the Frankish aristocracy was more important than the war against the Saracens. On the other hand they no doubt considered that the expedition was unlikely to provide them with many fiefs and benefices to be conquered beyond the Alps. Thus they made no response to the appeal addressed to them. Boso himself, who the year before, under the influence of Berengar of Friuli and the German party, had married Ermengarde, daughter of the late Emperor Louis II, was opposed to a fresh expedition into Italy, and declined to enter upon the campaign. Some of the most powerful nobles of the Western Kingdom, chosen by Charles to command the relieving army, Bernard, Count of Auvergne, and Bernard, Marquess of Gothia, followed the example set them. Hincmar himself, discontented that the vicariate should have been conferred on Ansegis, showed himself less loyal than usual, and Prince Louis openly abetted the movement. The one object of the discontented seems to have been to compel Charles to return, and in this they succeeded, for the Emperor lost no time in retracing his way towards Gaul. But on the road he fell sick and on 6 October, in a poor hovel, poisoned, it was said, by his Jewish doctor Zedekiah, he ended, miserably enough, his reign of thirty-seven years.

Historians have often pronounced adversely on the reign, influenced by chroniclers of Louis the German, who accuse his adversary of cowardice and incapacity. But it does not in fact appear that Charles was wanting either in courage or energy. All his contemporaries describe him as a learned man and a friend to letters. He has been reproached with not having succeeded in exacting obedience from his vassals, nor in organizing resistance to the Northmen. But it would certainly have been a task beyond human strength to resist the process of evolution, at once economic and social, which gave birth to the feudal system and transformed into hereditary fiefs the benefices which had been granted for life or during pleasure by the early Carolingians. Where Charles the Great had had subjects and functionaries, Charles the Bald has already no more than vassals, and is forced to impoverish himself for their behoove by incessant grants of honors and benefices, lest he should be abandoned by nobles ever ready to transfer their oaths of fidelity to a rival sovereign. Even the bishops, who were usually loyal, had no scruples in taking Charles to task on various occasions, Hincmar being first to set the example. Besides this, the civil wars, whether between the kings or between turbulent counts, and the Northman invasions compelled the free men to gather in groups around magnates or proceres strong enough to protect them in time of need. Thus they commend themselves to these lords, and in their turn become vassals. This process was at first encouraged by the sovereign, as facilitating the assembling of the host when necessary, and this it is which explains the provisions in the capitulary of 847 ordering every free man to choose himself a lord, the latter being charged with the office of leading his men to war. But an important transformation had besides taken place in the host. The infantry, which in the eighth century had formed the chief strength of the Frankish armies, had given way to cavalry. By the end of the ninth century, the Carolingian armies are almost wholly composed of horse-soldiers. But the mounted warrior cannot be a mere free man, for in order to maintain his steed and his handful of followers he must hold some land or benefice from his lord. He has become the knight, the miles, the last rank in the feudal hierarchy. Counts and knights, however, when summoned by the king, show no great eagerness to respond to the appeal. Constantly the attempts made by Charles to resist the Northmen are brought to nothing by the refusal of his vassals to follow him. Even when the Frankish force is under arms, it is only a sort of landwehr or militia, ill-adapted for fighting. The civilized Franks have lost the warlike qualities of their half-barbarous forefathers. It is not with such materials that a king or any other leader could expect to succeed against the bands of the Scandinavians who were trained to warfare and made it their habitual occupation.